Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Recycling for Dummies (namely, me!)

As I was working on The Great Garage Clean Up last month, I learned a lot about garbage that I didn’t know before. Odd, aren’t I? I promised details of the whole shebang, especially for you local folks who may need some help with your garbage sorting skilz. I promise, its easier than it seems. Lets get right to it, shall we?

Here in Nova Scotia, there are pretty tight laws about recycling and garbage sorting. It has taken a ton of getting used to, since we never recycled a thing before we moved here. Shame, shame, I know. But we’ve been trying to catch on and learn the system.

The basic breakdown is this:

Clear garbage bag: garbage. (Didn’t see that one coming, did you??)
Black garbage bag: anything you want to hide personal garbage. We’re allowed one black bag per pickup
Blue garbage bag: One for plastic recyclables (all of which need to be washed and dried. Yes, we have to daily wash our trash. I lead an elegant life.) and one for paper recyclables
Green cart for compost
Bottles and cans get taken to a redemption place in Digby, and they also have to be washed and dried.

Our garbage gets picked up every two weeks, and we are allowed 8 bags total each pick up.

Now here’s how we make it easier on ourselves:

We have our own compost pile, which gets put on the garden each year, so we don’t use the green compost bins. We also burn all our paper in our woodstove, or save it for camp fires in the summer. So we don’t have to worry about that. The biggest headache is the plastic stuff. Everything that has one of these: ♴ has to be washed, dried, and put in a blue bag. Annoying? Yes. I’ll admit I turned into a bit of a rebel when I first found out I had to wash trash. But I’ve gotten quite used to it now, and it really isn’t all that bad. :)

We also donate some items to a nearby second-hand store. Clothes, trinkets and toys that are still in good condition get donated to help someone else local that needs them! I love that part of our system...being able to give what we don’t need anymore to someone else that needs it.

That is the basics of the system. The problem came when I started doing major yard and garage clean up, and ran into a whole lotta stuff that wasn’t included on our handy garbage separating chart.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you might remember the bags of old, rotten sheetrock I had to get rid of. I also disposed of motor oil, concrete mix and setting compound that was as hard as a rock, moldy carpet, plywood, oil filters, old paint, and probably some other things I’m forgetting. Oh yeah, and fluorescent light bulbs Lets not forget those.

All of this had to be taken to the Transfer Station just outside Digby. It really is pretty handy. (You local folks can contact me for the exact location if you’d like to know!) The sheetrock and concrete and stuff like that had to be taken to the construction part, and there is a small fee for disposing things there. It is $50 per metric ton, so what little bit I had didn’t cost very much! All the other stuff, stuff that is just plain garbage, had to go to the main Transfer Station site. This is also where hazardous waste (old paint, oil filters, the fluorescent lights, etc.) had to go. There hasn’t been any fee for getting rid of stuff there. They also take just plain old garbage, so if you’re exceeding your 8 bag limit on pick-up days, you can take the excess there.

We also had three old vacuums we wanted to get rid of, so I made a phone call to find out what to do with those. They can be put out by the road to be picked up on normal garbage days, but the garbage guys like to have a heads up about it. So, you just have to call and let them know you’ll be putting those bigger items out. We actually just ended up taking ours to the transfer station, since we were going anyway, so that works too. Yay for getting rid of our vacuum graveyard!

For you local folks, there is a lot of information in the front pages of the phone book, as well as numbers to call for specific details. The helpful lady on the phone definitely knew her stuff, and was able to give me phone numbers to successfully clear out all that junk. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more info or phone numbers.

It is such a freeing feeling to have all those bags and bags of garbage completely gone. I wish I had taken a picture of the back of our suburban, loaded up with junk! Having all of that stuff really does weigh you down, which I didn’t really realize until I actually got rid of it. It was a fantastic, free feeling! Now that I know how easy it really is to get rid of stuff (load it up, drop it off, and you’re done!) I am sure we’ll be doing more cleaning and purging down the road.

I am also hoping to streamline our recycling process a little bit better, and have a definite place for everything to go. Right now, what we have is a lot of different colored garbage bags all over the shed floor. I’m sure there is a better way! I’ll keep you posted when I make changes!

I’d love to hear what recycling is like in your area. Where I grew up, it was throw anything and everything into the bag of a truck and haul it to the dump, where everything was thrown together in a big pit. The method here has taken more getting used to! What is it like for you?


  1. Wow, that is such a different way of thinking about trash!!



I appreciate you taking the time to comment! Some comments may need to be moderated, so don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't pop up right away. I can't wait to hear from you!